Hello, everyone! This week I'll be exploring a relatively new archetype, UR Breach. It started appearing more frequently on Magic Online approximately two months ago when a 5-0 list by Gsy was posted. Since then, there have been intermittent 5-0s with some additional success in larger events. User CharLy was able to go 9-0 in the Modern MTGO PTQ in early September, and about a month later Phillip Nelson got 15th in the SCG Dallas Modern Classic. While many improvements have already been made to the lists, I think the archetype is still largely unexplored; it seems a long way away from being fully optimized, which makes it a great choice for testing!
UR Breach is an "A+B Combo" deck trying to cast Through the Breach while holding an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Then, with a hasty 15/15 annihilator 6 creature in play, you are able to attack for what is usually good enough. It is important to keep in mind that while Emrakul has protection from colored spells, it can be blocked. Fortunately, within Emrakul's brick of text you will also find "Flying," so some evasion is still present. Even if your opponent can block after annihilator, losing seven permanents (six from the sacrifice and one from the block) will usually be good enough to win you the game eventually—but not always, so it is important to be wary of that possible situation.
In addition, a five-mana spell can often be a tad bit slow in the current Modern environment. As such, the rest of the deck is built to support a "slower" combo. First thing you will notice when you look at the decklist is a complete lack of mana acceleration. Many slower combo decks in Modern will often look to mana acceleration to alleviate their speed issues. For example, in any Ad Nauseam decklist you will find both Pentad Prism, and Lotus Bloom. Ad Nauseam is a particularly good example because it is also an "A+B Combo" deck trying to cast a five-mana spell to win the game. UR Breach, however, looks instead to play a control game on its early turns.
There are three big themes in the decklist that allow us to pursue this angle of attack:
- Denial in the form of counterspells.
- Mana denial via Blood Moon.
- Creature removal via burn spells.
The two big counterspells present are Remand and Cryptic Command. These are incredibly important because they both are so excellent at buying you additional time, while simultaneously digging deeper into your deck. Maybe you tap your opponent's team, draw a card. Maybe you bounce a problematic permanent, draw a card. Maybe you counter an irksome spell, draw a card. Whatever you are doing with these cards will likely give you the time you need, hopefully while drawing you the other half of your combo.
On top of that, Blood Moon can sometimes win you games on its own. This won't often be the case, but by and large, it will be irritating for most opponents. It may cause them to sequence their lands in a strange way or fetch basics they otherwise wouldn't want in order to play around it. Perhaps it will simply stop them from ever being able to double-spell in a single turn. Regardless, Blood Moon is present here to buy you some additional time to try and get you to a point in the game where you can reliably cast Breach.
After considering those two big elements we're left with the removal. The important thing to note about the burn is that is really serves triple duty here. Yes, it removes small creatures, which is incredibly important against aggro decks. However, it also often serves as the final five points against decks that aren't damaging themselves with their mana base. In addition to that, like any good Modern deck we have a plan B. Our plan B is very reminiscent of the Splinter Twin deck of old. (Although true, I hesitate to mention this fact considering the huge discrepancy in power level between these two decks.) Bolt, Snap Bolt, is still a reasonable way to win games, especially when backed up by Vendilion Clique and Electrolyze. This plan is usually more likely to work out when your opponent is hampered by Blood Moon, but it is worth noting that it is always available.
I've actually enjoyed this deck quite a bit so far, and it has been better than I expected. My win rate has not been spectacular, hovering around 60-65%, but as I said, I think there are still improvements to be made to the list. The sideboard is probably the roughest element of the list, but I'm not quite sure how to fix that—it is definitely something I will continue to think about moving forward. Bottom line, I think there is definitely something here, but I'm not sure it's better than the Grishoalbrand deck, the other Breach deck that springs to mind. Certainly these two decks have different approaches to the archetype, but at their core they are both trying to do powerful things with Breach, and both support Blood Moon. I think the extra explosiveness and additional combo present in Grishoalbrand may be better than the tempo/control elements found in UR Breach.
I hope you enjoy the matches as much as I always do! As usual, I'm interested to hear what kind of content you'd like to see moving forward, so I can continue to evolve and improve my videos. Please let me know your thoughts, and any improvements you would like to see concerning formatting, presentation, or whatever else strikes your fancy. If you'd like to see similar content, check out my Twitch channel for some more live Modern!